Return to Ramen Gaijin, Again

Ramen Gaijin gets Rich-slapped by Hapa Ramen's former chef, and keep on doing what they do. Which is making some of the Bay Area's best ramen. Revenge is best served in a steaming bowl.

Tea at Ramen Gaijin in Sebastopol
Tea at Ramen Gaijin in Sebastopol

Did Ramen Gaijin just get Rich-slapped?

Black Sesame Ice Cream at Ramen Gaijin in Sebastopol.
Black Sesame Ice Cream at Ramen Gaijin in Sebastopol.

Chef Matthew Williams isn’t quite sure why his ramen shop recently got called “white guy ramen” by the notoriously opinionated Richie Nakano of SF’s late Hapa Ramen.

Tea at Ramen Gaijin in Sebastopol
Tea at Ramen Gaijin in Sebastopol

So, okay, he and co-owner Moishe Hahn-Schuman are white guys, and their restaurant is called Ramen Gaijin (gaijin refers to a non-Japanese or foreigner in Japanese), but when you’re cranking out some of the best ramen in the Bay Area, well, people tend to take pot shots. Nakano swiped at the two in a recent Eater article, which even by outspoken chef standards seemed like a low blow.

Shoyu Ramen at Ramen Gaijin in Sebastopol.
Shoyu Ramen at Ramen Gaijin in Sebastopol.

Which is unfortunate, because Williams and Hahn-Schuman are ramen savants, meticulous to every detail of this simple-yet-exceedingly-complex noodle soup. They deserve a little more respect from a fellow ramen-eer.

In fact, the two just bought Nakano’s Japanese noodle maker for their own Sebastopol shop, cutting their 6-8 hour in-house noodle-making process to mere minutes. At a fire-sale price. Maybe that’s why Nakano’s so steamed.

Ramen Gaijin in Sebastopol features the NorthBay's best ramen
Ramen Gaijin in Sebastopol features the NorthBay’s best ramen

They also source ingredients from small local farmers and coastal fishmongers, and painstakingly craft everything from karaage (Japanese fried chicken) to their signature Shoyu Ramen with patient hands. This is no production line. And, I literally have never seen a quieter, more focused kitchen. 

The guys take it in stride, saying that they stand behind every single bowl they serve. Period. Classy.

Smoked black cod salad at Ramen Gaijin in Sebastopol
Smoked black cod salad at Ramen Gaijin in Sebastopol

While frankly, Biteclub would be willing to bathe in every bowl they serve. Not so classy. But oh so good.

Ramen Gaijin: 6948 Sebastopol Ave, Sebastopol, (707) 827-3609.

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6 thoughts on “Return to Ramen Gaijin, Again

  1. We eat here once a week now and it’s quickly become one of our 3 favorite restaurants in the county. We’ve eaten at all the important ramen places in NYC and LA and this place is just as good (if not better) than most of them.

  2. I have eaten here multiple times and I love the food and the prices. One of the best things that happened in Sebastopol (food wise) in a long time! Come and taste yourself. You can check out the reviews on Tripadvisor. I am not associated with this restaurant in any way!

  3. Really enjoyed the food however we were shocked at the bill. Food was reasonably priced however drinks were not. $12 for a beer, good grief, its Sebastopol NOT SF!

  4. My daughter and I were there the other night for ramen, and we loved the turmeric tea and the pickle platter. The ramen was very beautiful, but our broth was bitter and almost unpaletable, and the noodles very ala dente. I’m not sure maybe that’s his style of broth?

  5. Pretty sure Nakano was referring to the translation of the name ad not in reference to the ramen, but that’s just me

  6. Love this place! Happy to see them handling unfounded criticism with grace and class. Will happily continue to support them! 🙂

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